Metcalfe Hall

Directions: Visit Metcalfe Hall if you are travelling to Howrah via Strand Road. All the buses touch the junction point of Metcalfe Hall. It is located just opposite to Millennium Park. Or, you can take Metro and reach at Esplanade or Chadni and it will have a 20 minutes walk from Chadni or Esplanade.

Metcalfe Hall is an eye witness of Dark Age of India and the renaissance that happened in early 1800’s in Bengal with the hands Raja Rammuhan Roy, Vidyasagar and Debendranath Tagore. This building was once the library, opened to the public on 30th January 1903 .

Metcalfe Hall is a heritage building under the control of Archaeological Survey of India. It is situated in Kolkata, West Bengal. Situated at the junction of Strand Road and Hare Street, Metcalfe Hall was the torch bearer of many colonial doctrines and philosophies of Anglo Indian society and the Orientals.

123The architecture of Metcalfe Hall has the reflection of the British Imperial architecture at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Same architecture you can find in Nashipur Rajbari in Murshidabad District, Hazarduari in Mushidabad, Andul Rajbari in Howrah or you often see it in Athens or any ancient Greek temples.

C K Robinson, the then city magistrate was the architect of Metcalfe Hall. It was built in between 1840-1844. This building was named after Sir Charles T. Metcalfe, the Governor-General of India, in honour of his efforts towards a free press in India.

The building faces the Hooghly River on the West. The Greek order of the architecture was taken from the Tower of the Winds in Athens, one of the time tested designs of durability and lightness.

This Hall rose on a solid basement and thirty huge Corinthian pillars support a massive turntable. The columns and colonnade encircle the whole building. The main entrance from the west comprising a giant flight of stairs has been closed. It is now accessed through the portico on the East.

There are two stories comprising five halls in Metcalfe Hall. Initially, the building housed the Calcutta Public Library Collection, formed by Lord Metcalfe, then the Governor General, who transferred 4,675 volumes from the library of the College of Fort William. These volumes and donations of books from individuals formed the nucleus of the library, which was created under private auspices.

Prince Dwarkanath Tagore, the father of Rabindranath Tagore was the first proprietor of Calcutta Public Library. Now the ground floor houses the rare foreign journals and manuscripts section of Asiatic Society while the first floor houses offices, exhibition galleries and a sales counter of the Archaeological Survey of India.

Acknowledgement: The black and white photography is taken from google

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